How we met: Pittsburghers tell their tales of love
February 12, 2016 12:00 PM
Latasha and Charlie Batch.
Steve Hough and Nachum Golan.
Tara Sherry-Torres and La’Tasha D. Mayes
Michele de la Reza and Peter Kope.
The Boccella family
J.G. and Demeatria Boccella with their daughter.
Compiled by Natalie Bencivenga and Sara Bauknecht / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Everyone has a love story. Whether sweet or sad, romantic or funny, Pittsburghers have one thing in common: They love love. We interviewed local power couples of this fair city and reached out to the general community to tell us how they met the love of their lives. But consider yourselves warned: After sifting through piles of love letters and emails, there was one thing we didn’t count on. How many tissues we would go through reading all of these powerful tales of love.
Power Couples of Pittsburgh:
Charlie and Latasha Batch
Occupations:He is a former NFL quarterback and works in consulting. She is the executive director of the Best of the Batch Foundation.
Neighborhood(s) you call home: Franklin Park and Homestead.
How long you’ve been married: 10 years (and together for 14 years).
First thoughts when you met: “She was stunning,” says Charlie. But Latasha? She was “so not interested.”
Well, even after that moment, you went out together on a first date. What did you do? “Charlie cooked dinner for me,” says Latasha. (And while he didn’t “wow” her at first, she said those three magic words “I love you” before he did.)
How did your significant other propose? He asked me what I was doing for dinner ... and for the rest of my life.
What is it like to be married? We are each other’s best friends. We are like Bonnie & Clyde ... but without being crazy!
Best advice you were given about marriage: Latasha: “It isn’t easy without communication.” Charlie: “She is always right.”
Your plans for the future? Grow up and have kids of our own instead of the 3,000 we have at the foundation, but the kids at the foundation tell us we are not allowed to.
Nachum Golan and Steve Hough
Occupation: Interior designers.
You call home: Shadyside.
How long have you been together? Married two years, been together a total of 42 years.
Where did you meet? It was a chance encounter, but their first date was just a few days after they met. “Nachum invited me to a reception to celebrate the opening of his first design studio. We had dinner and much more after that,” says Steve.
Was it love at first sight? Steve: “I knew Nachum was The One right away. I couldn’t get him out of my mind; he’s been under my skin ever since.” Nachum: “Steve was my all-American dream boy.”
Who proposed marriage? “Nachum proposed by saying he wanted to do something on the 40th anniversary of living and working together that we had never done,” says Steve. Added Nachum: “I asked Steve to celebrate our time together by tying the knot.” They married in a hotel in New York City before same sex marriage was legal in Pennsylvania.
Where did you honeymoon? Paris, it is our favorite city outside of Pittsburgh.
Favorite thing about marriage: “I love being able to refer to ourselves as husband. Partner, lover, significant other never really completely described our relationship to each other,” says Steve. Added Nachum, “Marriage assures comfort and nurturing of each other.”
Any advice for those in love? Don’t run away at the first sign of trouble or conflict. Don’t forget to make “just us” time. Do allow your husband/wife time and space to be themselves. Do share your love for each other every day.
Demeatria and J.G. Boccella
About them: She’s a consultant and events producer, and he’s an artist, musician and founder of FierceWomenProject.com. They live in Regent Square and have been married for 14 years and have a daughter.
Love at first sight? They met on a blind date in 1997 and were introduced by a mutual friend, Herman Pearl, a local audio engineer and sound designer. “My first impression was, ‘Aww, he’s so cute,’” Demeatria says. He was “immediately enchanted and captivated” by her, J.G. says.
We knew we were a match ... “on our second date,” Demeatria says. “J.G. took me to Highland Park, and we read Maya Angelou poetry and ate eggplant sandwiches. I knew he was special. After that date, I remember saying out loud, ‘Lord, you have me liking a white man.’ ”
Then came wedding bells: “We were married at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Highland Park. Our wedding was a fusion and celebration of cultures,” Demeatria says. “We featured both live African drumming and classical music. One of the most memorable moments was when Pittsburgh recording artist Anita Levels sang the Lord’s Prayer.”
Words of wisdom? Marriage is like a garden. You have to take care of it every day.
Tara Sherry-Torres and La’Tasha D. Mayes
Occupations: La’Tasha is founder and executive director of New Voices Pittsburgh: Women of Color for Reproductive Justice. Tara is founder and CEO of Cafe con Leche.
Neighborhoods you call home: Bloomfield (Tara) and Morningside (La’Tasha).
How long you’ve been together: Almost two years.
How did you meet? Tara: “I went to a New Voices movie screening years ago and introduced myself to La’Tasha knowing I would change her life. It took a few more years for that to happen …” Why? “I was mad at her because she couldn’t join the New Voices board of directors,” says La’Tasha. But, then one day four years later they ran into each other at the New Voices Women of Color HERStory Month Wine Tasting. Adds Tara: “I invited her out to Art All Night on April 26 and we were out all night long so we marked April 27 as our anniversary. Ever since then we have been inseparable.”
Who said “I love you” first? “I can’t remember. It probably was me. I have always loved Tara whether I knew it or not,” says La’Tasha.
What is the best advice you were given about love and relationships? Love will happen when you least expect it. With love, there are hills and valleys. Love frees you.
What is your favorite thing about her? Tara: “La’Tasha has an incredibly large heart and is so much fun. I love how adventurous she can be.” La’Tasha: “Tara is extremely sweet but she will get Brooklyn jag on you if she has to get you together. Do not mistake her kindness for weakness.”
Will you get married? Tara: “I feel like answering this question will put a jinx on us.” La’Tasha: “Agreed. I leave this up to the Universe.”
Peter Kope and Michele de la Reza
About them: They are co-founders and artistic directors of the Pittsburgh-based modern contemporary dance company Attack Theatre, and dance faculty at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Music. They’ve been married for 16 years and have a 7-year-old son, Xander. They live in Highland Park.
First, they were partners on stage: They moved to Pittsburgh to work with choreographer Mark Taylor when he moved from New York City to become the director of the now-defunct Dance Alloy troupe. Michele also was a transplant from New York City, while Peter came here after an international tour with a project from Jacob’s Pillow in Becket, Mass.
“He was a great performer and an especially good partner,” Michele says. “I thought he was funny, easy-going and handsome but not necessarily my type.”
“I remember thinking that she was really pretty and a great dancer who could kick her leg like a Rockette,” Peter says.
Then, they became partners in life: “It really snuck up on me,” Peter says. “I realized that we fit together so well, not just finishing each other’s sentences, or as dancers, but the philosophical, practical and passionate outlook on life. It just feels so right and complete.”
For Michele, things started to click during a summer dance project in New York.
“I fell in love with him that summer. I still remember the duet we performed together,” she says. “It was called ‘Perils of Angels’ and was choreographed by Nita Little. It was raw, beautiful, honest and passionate. And so was he.”
Marriage and mosquitoes: Peter proposed while they were driving across Florida’s Alligator Alley (through parts of the Everglades on Interstate 75 between Fort Lauderdale and Naples).
“He stopped the car on the side of the highway in the middle of a swamp. He lifted me onto the hood of the car and got down on his knee,” she says. “I knew he was going to propose, and I tearfully said ‘Yes.’ The only problem was that I was also getting eaten alive by mosquitoes.”
“Yes, and she forgot to mention the swamp boat with the jet engine that started just as I finished asking her,” he says.
How do you balance work and family? “That is hard to answer when they are so intertwined,” Michele says. “When you are partners in life and work it is a bit like a roller coaster — thrilling, scary, fun, fast, with a lot of ups and downs.”
The best advice you were given about marriage? “Never go to sleep angry,” Peter says. “It will only get worse in the morning.”
Natalie Bencivenga: firstname.lastname@example.org; Sara Bauknecht: email@example.com.
To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to
firstname.lastname@example.org and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner.